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The Scottish Nation

SMYTHE, one of the modes of spelling the surname of Smith. The family of Smythe of Methven, Perthshire, descend from Thomas Smith, who was apothecary to King James III., as appears by a charter, of date 29th January 1477. His son, Patrick Smith of Braco, Perthshire, temp. James IV., was succeeded by his son, William Smith of Braco. The latter, by his wife, Agnes Scott, of the family of Balwearie, Fifeshire, relict of Christopher Snel of Balgarvie, in the same county, had a son, Patrick Smith of Braco, who was served heir to his father in 1561. Alexander, Patrick’s son, predeceased him in 1603, leaving two sons, Patrick, who succeeded his grandfather in 1604, and Andrew. On the consecration of their guardian, George Graham, minister of Scone, as bishop of Orkney, they were removed thither, where they settled. Andrew acquired the estate of Rapness, and marrying in Orkney, left issue. Patrick, the elder son, laird of Braco, was thrice married, his first wife being Catherine Graham, daughter of his guardian, and had issue by all his wives. Henry, his eldest son, joined the army of Charles I., and fell at Marston Moor in 1644. George, the second son, predeceased his father, who was succeeded by Patrick, the third son. The latter made great additions to his paternal estate in Perthshire, and acquired also the lands of Maill in Orkney. He was cast away about 1651, in crossing the Pentland firth, when himself and the whole boat’s crew were drowned. His eldest surviving son, Patrick Smith of Braco, sold his estates in the Orkneys, and in 1664 purchased from the duke of Lennox, the lands of Methven, Perthshire, part of the dowry lands formerly appropriated for the maintenance of the queen-dowager of Scotland. Patrick Smith of Methven was twice married. Patrick, his only son by his first wife, was accidentally shot by his tutor, on a shooting party, on the loch of Methven. David, his eldest son, by his second wife, succeeded him. His first wife, Anne, daughter of James Keith of Benholm, brother of the sixth earl Marischal, was a lady of a bold military spirit, who distinguished herself by her opposition to the Covenanters. On Sunday, 13th October 1678, during her husband’s absence in London, some of that persecuted body, chiefly from Perth, met for worship in the neighbourhood of Methven castle, when Mrs. Smythe, at the head of her husband’s tenantry, drove them off the estate. In a letter to her husband, whom she calls her “heartkeeper,” who thus describes the occurrence: “My precious love, -- A multitude of men and women from east, west, and south, came to hold a field conventicler two bows’ draft above our church; they had their tent set up before the sun on your ground. I, seeing them flocking to it, sent through your ground, and charged them to repair to your brother David, the bailie and me, to the Castlehill, where we had but sixty armed men. Your brother, with drawn sword and bent pistol, I, with the light horseman’s piece bent on my left arm and a drawn tuck in my right hand, all your servants well armed, marched forward, and kept the one half of them fronting with the other, that were guarding their minister, and their tent, which is their standard. … They sent off a party of one hundred men to see of they would not go from the parish of Methven presently, it should be a bloody day. … They, seeing we were desperate, marched over the Pow; and so we went to the church, and heard a feared minister preach. They have sworn not to stand with such an affront, but are resolved to come next Lord’s day; and I, in the Lord’s strength, intend to accost them with all that will come to assist us.” In the same letter she says: “I have written to your nephew, the treasurer of Edinburgh, to send me two brass hagbutts of found, and that with the bearer. If they come against Saturday, I will have them with u s. My love, present my humble duty to my lord marquis (of Montrose) and my lady, likewise all your friends; and, my blessed love, comfort yourself in this, if the fanatics chance to kill me, it shall not be for nought. I was wounded for our gracious king, and now in the strength of the Lord God of heaven, I’ll hazard my person with the men I may command before these rebels rest where ye have power.” In a subsequent letter she says, “If every parish were armed, and the stout loyal heads joining, with orders to concur and liberty to suppress them as enemies to our king and the nation, these raging gypsies would settle.” It was no wonder that this fiery heroine should have been deemed worthy of especial honour by Archbishop Sharp. Writing to her husband in 1679, she informs him that the provost and dean of guild of Perth having waited on the archbishop at St. Andrews, in reference to the induction of a clergyman to the parish church of St. John’s, in that city, the archbishop inquired “at the provost all the way of my proceeding against the conventicler, which was truly repeated, the archbishop drank my good health, and said the clergy of this nation were obliged to me.” Afterwards, as an evidence of his good opinion of her, he approved of a minister of her recommending to the church of Methven.

The second son, David Smythe, Esq. of Methven, was the first to change the spelling of his name. He died in 1735. His son, David Smythe of Methven, born 24th June 1711, married, first, Mary, eldest daughter of James Graham of Braco, sister of General David Graham of Gorthie, and, with other issue, had a son, David, and a daughter, Margaret, wife of George Oswald, Esq., merchant, Glasgow; 2dly, in 1761, Katherine, daughter of Patrick Campbell, a lord of session under the title of Lord Monzie, without issue. The son, David Smythe of Methven, born 17th January 1746, passed advocate, 4th August 1769. He married, 8th April 1772, Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir Robert Murray, of Hillhead, baronet, and sister of General Sir James Murray Pulteney, baronet. On the death of this lady in 1785, he began to practice at the bar, and soon after was appointed sheriff-depute of Perthshire. Admitted a lord of session, 15th November 1793, he assumed the title of Lord Methven. On March 11, 1796, he was appointed a lord of justiciary. The latter office he resigned in 1804, and died Jan. 30, 1806. He had married, 2dly, in 1794, Amelia Euphemia, only daughter of Mungo Murray, Esq. of Lintrose, styled, “the Flower of Strathmore.” She is celebrated by Burns in his song of ‘Blythe was she,’ having been seen by the poet, when on a visit to her relative, Sir William Murray of Ochtertyre. By his 1st wife, Lord Methven had 3 sons and 4 daughters, and by his 2d, 6 sons and 2 daughters. Catherine Campbell, the elder of these last, became the wife of the Right Hon. David Boyle, lord-justice-general of Scotland.

His three surviving sons were, 1. Robert Smythe of Methven, born in 1778, married, 1st, in 1810, Mary, 2d daughter of James Townsend Oswald, Esq. of Dunnikier, Fifeshire; 2dly, in 1817, Susan Renton, eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie of Delvine, baronet; without issue. 2. William, of whom below. 3. The Rev. Patrick M. Smythe, of Tamworth, Warwickshire. Another son, George Smythe, Esq., was killed by a fall from a gig. This gentleman, a member of the Bannatyne Club, contributed to that Society a volume, entitled ‘Letters of John Grahame, of Claverhouse, viscount of Dundee, with illustrative Documents.’ Edin. 1826, 4to.

Robert Smythe, Esq. of Methven, died in 1847. His half brother, William Smythe, Esq., born 1803, succeeded. He married, 1st, in 1838, Margaret, eldest daughter of James Walker, Esq. of Great George Street, Westminster; and 2dly, in 1849, Emily, daughter of General Sir John Oswald of Dunnikier, G.C.B. Educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, (B.A. 1826, M.A. 1828), he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1829, and to the Scottish bar in 1836, but retired from practice; appointed secretary to the Board of Supervision in Scotland in 1845, resigned in 1852; a magistrate and deputy lieutenant and convener of Perthshire. His son and heir, David Murray Smythe, was born in 1850.

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